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I-70 through Colorado re-opens after rock slide

Thursday, March 11th, 2010 6:50pm MDT
Image of Interstate 70's new alignment through Glenwood Canyon.  Further repairs are needed to restore the highway completely. (CDOT)  See a complete series of photos of the slide and repairs in the slideshow below.

Image of Interstate 70's new alignment through Glenwood Canyon. Further repairs are needed to restore the highway completely. (CDOT) See a complete series of photos of the slide and repairs in the slideshow below.

With cleanup complete and the threat of further rock slides mitigated, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reopened Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon this afternoon. The highway had been closed since Monday when a slide sent 250 tons of rocks crashing onto the interstate.

Boulders the size of semi-trucks did significant damage to the interstate. A hole on the westbound sound measured 20 feet by 10 feet and one on the eastbound side was 6 feet by 6 feet.

While in the process of starting the cleanup, CDOT geologists discovered additional rocks further up the mountain that presented a threat to the highway.

Crews worked in recent days to remove one rock that was 20 feet in diameter and smaller threats on the mountain while others worked to repair the roadway below.

The extensive damage caused to the highway will result in limits on traffic through the affected area for the near future. Only one lane in each direction is open now and the speed limit has been reduced to 40 mph. Trucks over 14 feet wide are not permitted in the area.

CDOT said they would provide more information tomorrow as to how long complete repairs will take. In a statement they said the new restrictions “will remain like this until long-term repairs can be completed in the coming weeks/months.”

Slides in Glenwood Canyon are not entirely unusual due to the rugged terrain and the varying weather conditions experienced in the area. Storms, snow melt and runoff, and even minor seismic activity can set loose the sides of mountains.

The stretch of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon was the final piece of the interstate highway system to be completed in the United States. When it was finished in 1992 the 15-mile stretch was considered a major engineering accomplishment.

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